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Stop The Shame

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Stop Being Ashamed Of Being A Christian!

January 4, 2009

“Believing In An Unbelieving World”  Message 1 of 4

2 Timothy 1:6-12  [i]

 

 

Mary Anna Martin grew up during the depression, but her family, despite its poverty, was rich in love and happiness. Her dad and mom were caring and tender parents, and laughter filled their home.

Her father was a baker, but he lost his bakery shop in the first years of the depression. He had to take any job he could to pay the family's mortgage and keep food on their table. He worked at the local YMCA for awhile, then with the WPAWhen that job ran out, he found a job as a janitor. He was an older man, small and gray, and it was hard work. But he did his best.

Mary Anna said, "My life was happy and carefree until the year I left elementary school and started junior high. I was 13, and soon became part of a new group of friends. I knew that Daddy was a janitor, but I didn't know where, until that awful day during lunch break." It was when Mary Anna was seated at a table with her new friends when she heard a teacher call her father's name in a loud voice. Someone had dropped their tray, and food and milk covered the table and the floor. She saw him walk toward the table, carrying a mop and old rags.

One of the girls said to Mary Anna, "That janitor has the same last name as yours. Do you know him?  "Mary Anna slowly raised her head and looked at the little, gray man cleaning up the spilled food. She hesitated, then said, "I've never seen him before in my life." A wave of intense embarrassment swept over her, and she instantly felt ashamed of denying her dearest friend on earth.

She hated herself for those words and tried to make up for what she had done by showing her father that she loved him more than ever. She sang to him and read to him and spent time with him. But regardless of how hard she tried, nothing made her feel better. The years passed, and her father developed Alzheimer's disease. One day when he was ill and she was sitting with him, she started crying. Her mother asked her what was wrong, and Mary Anna poured out her heart and told her what had been bothering her for more than fifteen years.

She said, "I have been asking God to forgive me, but I can't get over what I have done."  Her mother drew her close and held her tightly as she wept. "Honey," she said, "your daddy knew you loved him, and he would have loved you even if he had known about your being ashamed of him when you were so young. You know –Simon Peter denied that he knew Jesus before he was crucified on the cross, and Jesus loved him just the same."

And Suddenly Mary Anna felt at peace with herself for the first time since she was in junior high. She knew that because of the love of Christ, it was time to turn the corner.

We have all been ashamed of things as we have passed through this life. Perhaps it was something we did, some thing we said, how we acted in a certain situation or how we reacted to a certain situation. We have all experienced shame!

Haven’t we? I have!

This morning, I want you to Open your Bibles to 2 Timothy… Paul is writing to a young Pastor who is a little discouraged by the things going around him and in the life of his friends. Paul seems to sense the fact that Timothy is growing ashamed of the Gospel because of the affliction, persecutions and trials that accompany it. Paul wants Timothy to know that there are some things in life of which we must never be ashamed.

Doesn’t it  seem like we’re embarrassed about all the wrong things.  We live in a society that has made people too embarrassed to stand up for any virtues and good principles. People are even too ashamed to differ with others on politics and religion, opting for passive indifference. Many are embarrassed …thinking others will look down on them for their choices.  Or, they are ashamed to be thought of as intolerant, biased, or narrow-minded. The result is a society that stands for nothing.

Today we begin a series of messages on 2 Timothy. The theme of this series is—BELIEVING IN AN UNBELIEVING WORLD.  I’ve titled this message—STOP THE  SHAME!  What does that mean?  “Stop Being Ashamed of Being A Christian.”

Look how Paul puts it in

2 Tim 1:6-12….

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands.7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

3 easy principles today…  Lets look at them…

1.  I Can Not Be Timid—I Have God’s Power! 

One dark night outside a small town, a fire started inside the local chemical plant.  Before long it exploded into flames and an alarm went out to fire departments from miles around. After fighting the fire for over an hour, the chemical company president approached the fire chief and said,

 

"All of our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved!  I will give $50,000 to the engine company that brings them out safely!"

As soon as the chief heard this, he ordered the firemen to strengthen their attack on the blaze. After 2 more hours of attacking the fire, the president of the company offered $100,000 to the engine company that could bring out the company’s secret files.

From the distance, a long siren was heard and another fire truck came into sight. It was a local volunteer fire company composed entirely of men over 65. To everyone’s amazement, the little fire engine raced through the chemical plant gates and drove straight into the middle of the inferno. At a distance the other firemen watched as the old timers hopped off of their rig and began to fight the fire with an effort that they had never seen before.

After an hour of intense fighting, the volunteer company had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas. Astounded and full of gratitude, the chemical company president announced that he would double the reward to $200,000 and walked over and personally thanked each of the volunteers.

After thanking each of the old men individually, the president asked the group what they intended to do with the reward money. The fire truck driver looked him right in the eye and said, "The first thing we’re going to do is fix the brakes on that truck!"

What had looked like courage and unbelievable desire was instead faulty brakes and the will to live. Do you charge boldly into life because of your faith—or simply because of faulty brakes? Does your Faith move you beyond what you’ve experienced in the past?  This morning we’re going to look at a letter sent from a Veteran Evangelist to a Rooky Pastor.

The veteran, you may know as the apostle Paul. He commissioned Timothy, the young pastor, to serve in Ephesus.  Paul’s writings reveal a man who did not seem to struggle much with lack of motivation. I believe PAUL would be considered today to be a  "Type A" personality -- the driven sort who was continually on the move.

When he couldn’t be there personally he burned the midnight oil writing letters. He was anxious to use every opportunity given to him. Where he ran into opposition, he usually turned it into an occasion for celebration. When he attracted trouble, lesser people scattered and ran.

Timothy?  Well…  I think he was a little more like the rest of us.

Timothy was probably a little more laid back, ready to settle into one place. But Timothy had stalled in at least one area.  As different as the 2 men were, Paul was crazy about his student. Paul saw the potential and he invested heavily and personally to bring out the best in Timothy. In light of their personal friendship he will give his young friend a hot spark of encouragement, which may seem to be aimed dead center at many of us:

 

2 Tim 1:6-7: For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

In fact, before we get much further, I want you to personalize this to see if it fits. I want you to think of your spiritual history with others who have helped you along the way.

Fill in your name as if Paul were addressing you:

"Because of those dear nurturing believers in your life, I remind you, Joanna to fan into flame the gift of God given to you, Dorothy. For God did not give you, Paul or Rick or Ken, a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Sort of a bummer to sit up front here isn’t it?  Just ask Ruth!  

Timothy lived in vicious times. Identifying with Christians often meant trouble. We are living under an illusion if we believe that being a Christian should be comfortable. The truth of it is that many of us are often afraid to stand up and identify ourselves as Christian – even among friends! That puts a lid on your growth, Pal!  Or, we may be afraid to try new things, lest we fail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said this, "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."

God wants us to face life courageously. Christianity is not for weak, cowardly people. God calls us to go places we’ve never been. He Gives to us tasks that we feel inadequate for. He exposes moral blind spots in our lives that are ugly to look at.

Honestly, that’s why many people begin with faith, but settle for a religion. Here is the difference my friend… Faith is active, living and sometimes scary. Religion is dead, comfortable and ritualistic.

Faith is risk… and risk takes faith.

Hebrews 10:38 tells it all, doesn’t it?

But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.

Have you ever heard of the

"Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of the first letters of its name, you have the word "D.O.O.R.M.A.T.S." [DOORMATS]  The Doormats have an official insignia—a yellow caution light. Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s OK with everybody!" Upton Diskson founded the society after he wrote a pamphlet called “Cower Power.”

I don’t think God wants us to be a card carrying member of the “Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls” do you?

The apostle Paul from what many scholars tell us was not this tall, muscular, intimidating  man. In fact, most believe he was short, almost hunched over, and his eyesight was not very good. To look at him you wouldn’t think of Power and Success. But you see -- that’s our problem. We look with human eyes at things. The Apostle Paul was one of the most Powerful Influencers for Christianity that we have ever had.

God took this possibly frail looking Hebrew professor, this little fiery man and literally turned all of the Roman world upside down. Paul didn’t worry about what he looked like or what he didn’t look like. Paul relied on one thing. His source of power is the same source that we have access to today..... It’s the Power of the Holy Spirit living in us –and through us.  (AMEN?!)

Napoleon often referred to Marshall Ney as the bravest man he had ever known. Yet Marshall Ney’s knees trembled so badly one morning before a battle that he had trouble mounting his horse. When he was finally in the saddle he shouted contemptuously,

"Shake away, knees!   

You would shake worse than that

if you knew where I was going to take you."

My friend, I have to ask you this.  If the church won’t stand with God NOW ---When will we stand? 

1. I Can Not Be Timid—I Have God’s Power!

2.  I Will Not Be Ashamed—I Will Share My Faith! 

vs. 8  “So do not be ashamed TO TESTIFY about our Lord, or be ashamed of me his prisoner….”

Is evangelism important to you? 

Well…That’s why we pay the preacher isn’t it?  Isn’t that why we have a Youth Pastor and a Visitation Pastor.  That’s why we have a Worship Team, isn’t it?  r a Missions Committee… Why do I need to Evangelize… we have all these others who do it…. Don’t we?  Let me ask you again…

 Is Evangelism important to you?

If you don’t care whether God’s love seems real to your friends,  If you think religious beliefs are like noses, everyone has one and beneath the surface they all work the same way, If you never meet anyone who is confused, afraid, hopeless, or in need of direction, If you don’t think Jesus has much to say to our affluent, technologically sophisticated society If you think it is perfectly fine that the person you are sitting next to, …or standing in line with at the restaurant, or the bank or the grocery store is going to Burn in Hell for Eternity.

If you believe people become followers of Jesus when God sprinkles magic pixie dust on them,  If you are satisfied when the church merely mirrors and preserves the values of the society around it.  Then, no, you probably don’t see much need for evangelism. 

Then on the other hand, If you believe---That the value you put at the center of your life makes a difference in how you deal with everything from dating to death.

That the life and teachings of Jesus offer the world something distinctive. That people who gather in Christ’s name can make a difference in the world. That the best things in life should be shared instead of hoarded. That it’s hard to understand and embrace a vision until someone models it. You might agree that evangelism IS important… Not only important but ESSENTIAL!

Every Christian can be and should be an evangelist.  If that assertion seems a little too sweeping, perhaps it’s because our culture treats “Christian practice” as a leisure activity, in the same category with fishing or golfing. 

Societies—POLITICALLY CORRECT GARBAGE often makes us reluctant to do anything that might be seen as imposing our “hobby” on others.  Jesus does not treat Christian life as something we do in our spare time.  He assumes our Christian identity will be at the core of who we are, like the hub to which every spoke of the wheel is connected. Jesus expects that when we catch his vision, we will be so excited we will want others to catch it.  If you know how to recommend a restaurant you already have enough skill to be an evangelist.

Notice these two statements:


“Do not be ashamed” – v 8
“I am not ashamed” – v. 12

We all understand why Paul wrote these words. There are times for all of us when we are tempted to be ashamed of our faith. You may keep quiet at work because you fear what will happen if someone finds out.

Or you may not speak out in high school for fear of what others will say about you. Or you may play down your faith at a family reunion so you won’t offend anyone. It’s like saying, “I’ve got a cure for cancer but I’m ashamed to mention it because you probably won’t believe me anyway.” If a person had the cure for cancer, it would be criminal not to share the cure with others, wouldn’t it? But we have a cure for the “soul-cancer”. How can we keep it to ourselves?

Are you ashamed to be a Christian? But have you ever found yourself falling quiet in conversations about things related to your faith, just not mentioning your point of view or maybe even going along with the crowd.

We may not think of it as being ashamed of our faith but shame is basically fear, fear they won't understand; fear they will think I am weird and fear that somehow I will be set apart from the crowd. Jesus said that this is exactly what will happen to us. “Blessed are you. We like those words don’t we? 

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man" (Luke 6:22).

Yah… we like the first 3 words there…. No one likes to be left out of the group or thought of as different, but remember what Paul said:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek"(Romans 1:16).

The Newsboys recorded a song called "I'm Not Ashamed." Part of the lyrics go like this…I'm not ashamed to let you know. I want this light in me to show. I'm not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ.

"I'm not ashamed"  Not Of His Pain – Do not be ashamed to identify yourself with the cross of Jesus.

It is the cross that purchased salvation!  Do not be ashamed to identify yourself with the Gospel message: Yes, It may bring division, Yes, it may bring persecution, but it is that very message that penetrated your heart and brought you to the feet of a risen, saving Lord!

Paul warns Young Pastor Timothy to not be ashamed of the people of God, …including those like Paul who were imprisoned for the cause of Christ. We should NEVER be ashamed to identify ourselves with that crowd that is serving the Lord! There is no finer group of people in the world than those who have left all to follow Him. They may be strange, they may be weird, but if they are saved, they are family!

The best thing a believer can do is throw in with a bunch of folks who love the Lord!  If the saints are good enough for Jesus, then they ought to be good enough for you and me! AMEN?

In Verse 8, Paul instructs Timothy, “Do not be ashamed to testify about the Lord”

Our Witness,

through the Power of the Holy Spirit is what can make a difference in people’s lives. It’s our life lived out in front of people. We share with people good news all the time.

Don’t you think that if I hit a hole in one on the Golf course, that I might share that news the next time I preached?  Everybody would know it! It would be in the next week’s sermon.  I would find a way to make sure it would fit into the sermons, somehow!

What about

A new job,

a promotion,

a baby on the way,

a new grandchild,

a clean bill of health from the doctor…

We share good news all the time!

Those are all great things to tell people about. What about what Jesus has done for you?

Is that Good News?   Have you been saved from your sins and spared from an eternity in Hell?  (yes?)

Have you been forgiven of your past, has your marriage been saved? What has God done for you?

People need to know that Jesus can transform their Life.

And that Jesus can heal the brokenhearted, Jesus can wipe our sin- stained hearts clean, Jesus can give us hope for our families, for our Future.

Will you be a Witness?  One misconception I want us all to avoid.

It might be possible to leave here thinking, "Not Ashamed"

allows the option to ..... - just be quietly supportive.  Unfortunately – NO!

God calls us to wear our faith on our sleeve – to be visibly proud of Jesus. 

“Shame” – is when you feel threatened or small or less worthwhile because of an association with something or someone.  Well…"I am not ashamed of Jesus!!"  How about you? 

I Can Not Be Timid—I Have God’s Power!

I Will Not Be Ashamed—I Will Share My Faith!

3.  I Am Not Unsure---I Am Convinced! 

The gospel is rooted in history—in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have not believed fables; we have believed the truth of God. Death itself has been abolished by our Lord. Even though we die, we don’t stay dead. In a sense, suffering is rendered inconsequential. What’s the worse that our enemies can do to us?

They can kill us. What happens then? We go to heaven! We win either way. So why worry about suffering or even about death itself? What’s the big deal? Are you going to let someone threaten you with heaven?

“I’ll Send you to Heaven!”  Nothing bad can happen to him! Death has been defeated! So even in the dark confines of a Roman jail, under a sentence of death, knowing that his days are numbered, he has peace, assurance, confidence and boldness.  That’s why he can come to a triumphant conclusion in verse 12:

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”

Let’s Break It Down:

 I KNOW

This word “know” is not ginōskō (γινωσκω), “experiential or intellectual knowledge,” But rather it is oida (οiy δα), “absolute, beyond a doubt knowledge,” it’s the stronger word. The knowledge here is not personal knowledge gained by experience, such as fellowship with God, But a knowledge of what God is in Himself which makes Him absolutely dependable in any circumstances.

I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED!

“I have believed,” is in the perfect tense in the Greek text. It is in its full meaning, “I have believed with the present result that my faith is a firmly settled one.”  It is like hammering a nail through a board and clinching it on the other side. It is there to stay. So, Paul’s faith was placed permanently in the God whom he knew.

Notice how Paul puts it:   “I know whom I have believed.” He doesn’t say, “I know what I have believed,” though that would be true. And he doesn’t say, “I know how much I have believed,” even though that is also true. And he doesn’t say, “I know when I believed,”  which he could well have said. And he doesn’t say, “I know why I have believed,” even though that would be true as well.

As the great orator/preacher Spurgeon puts it, it is as if he says,

“I know the person into whose hand I have committed my present condition, and my eternal destiny. I know who he is, and I therefore, without any hesitation, leave myself in his hands.”

I KNOW OF WHOM I AM AND I AM CONVINCED

Again, “convinced” is perfect in tense. Paul had come to a settled persuasion regarding the matter and was fixed in an immovable position. THAT HE IS ABLE.

You could not budge him. “Able” is dunatos (δυνατος). The verb dunamai (δυναμαι) means, “to be able, to have power.” The word that we get for (Dynamite)

When Paul uses the word here, he is not thinking of mere ability to do something, but of the might and power resident in the Being –who is of ability to do what he trusts Him to do.

TO GUARD THAT WHICH I’VE ENTRUSTED

The word “guard” is (φυλασσω), a military term meaning “to defend, keep watch.”

2 verses later, Paul tells the young preacher, Timothy, "Guard the treasure which has been entrusted to you."  In both of those verses the Apostle Paul uses a very special Greek word, "paratheke." And the word "paratheke" means "a treasure or a deposit left with someone you trust completely."

There were no banks back in Paul’s day where you could deposit your money & keep it safe. So what did you do with your wealth when you went on a journey?

Leave it in a Bank

Safe-Deposit Box?

Set the Alarm on your house?

Talk to the Neighborhood Watch group?

What do you do?  You would ask a person to watch after your things.  Sort of like having some one “House-Sit” for you as you go on a Vacation… The person you ask to take care of your possessions must be someone you know very well, & in whom you trust completely.  And that is what Paul is saying …that Jesus is… in this verse.

 

He was trusting his own destiny to the same One who had entrusted him with the stewardship of the gospel. Even though he was suffering abuse and humiliation, he was confident of God’s complete vindication in the end.

Paul was using his own example to bolster Timothy’s perhaps sagging courage.  Everything Paul cares about has been placed into God’s hand, and Paul is sure that it is being kept for him, when Christ returns. [[1]Richards, Larry. The Bible Reader's Companion. Includes index. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1991. ]

What an encouragement it is to know that Christ is faithful and able to keep His own! It is not  an “I hope” or I think.”—but I KNOW!

There are two ways of reading v. 12, and perhaps Paul meant both of them. Paul is saying that he knows he can trust Christ to keep him and his soul; but he is also saying that he knows Christ will enable him to keep what He has committed to him.

TO HIM FOR THAT DAY!

The words for that day must refer to the day when Paul knows he must give an account of his stewardship. He was living and working in the light of the final day of reckoning, but was sure that he could entrust the result to God.

In these difficult days, it is important that we stand true to Christ and be willing to suffer for Him and not be ashamed.

We may not be put into prison, as was Paul; but we suffer in other ways: the loss of friends, being bypassed for a promotion, loss of customers, being snubbed by people, etc.

As we close—Let’s look at the screen —and respond together—as the Family of Faith---

Let’s Stop Being Ashamed of Being A Christian—

Say it with me

I Can Not Be Timid—I Have God’s Power!

 

I Will Not Be Ashamed—I Will Share My Faith!

 

I Am Not Unsure—I Am Convinced!

 

Maybe we could do a little Responsive Reading for a Moment.  Make sure you look at the screen…Are you ready?

PJ: Say it with boldness,

Congregation: God is good.

PJ: Say it out loud,

Congregation: Jesus loves me.

PJ:  Say it without hesitation,

Congregation:  I Belong To Jesus

PJ: Say it clearly,

Congregation: I KNOW Whom I Have Believed!

PJ: Say it to all the world.

Affirmation of Belief

We are called to speak of
God's transforming love.


We affirm that we are to be bold
In declaring God's goodness and mercy.
We are proud of our faith,

Proud to be the people of God.
Let us proclaim to the world
Our salvation and God's wondrous presence in our lives.

(Pray)  Jesus,

Inspire us to be bold in faith

And passionate in action.

Let us speak with pride
Of your presence in our lives.

Let us serve you with the very best within us,

That all the world may know

Of your goodness and your power. 

Through Jesus

We Boldly Pray—Amen!

 


TCK

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